If like me you are a thirty-something who grew up with Star Wars, you will likely feel much the same about this beloved franchise. The originals are the best, Phantom Menace was the biggest disappointment of your cinema-going life, Jar Jar can go die in a fire, Han shot first and so on - Star Wars is part of the culture; we grew up with it, we love it.
Well, what do we have here then? After years and years and years of wanting a follow up to 2004’s Star Wars Battlefront we now have one; this time Disney and more importantly DICE have taken the reigns. For anyone out there who remembers the original Battlefront - available on the original Xbox, PC and PS2 - you may recall the guts of a bloody good game, at least in theory. Marred by the online technology at the time, it was a nightmare to play online and in turn not as graphically rewarding due to the platforms on which it ran. But - but - it was Star Wars and it had huge online (admittedly laggy) battles. Now however, the technology has advanced, online gaming has come on leaps and bounds, the rights to the games have switched hands and we are presented with Star Wars Battlefield… erm… Battlefront.
Now let’s get any fanboy talk out of the way before we begin. A common mistake when someone likes a game, especially one associated with films, books, whatever, is that they will like it regardless of whether it is any good. Well no - such thinking is unfair on the individual and usually quite misplaced. If Battlefront was awful I’d be so distraught, having waited the aforementioned years and years, that this article would be one giant rant. Luckily it’s not at all awful, it is in fact pretty much what a Star Wars fan would want from an online Star Wars shooter.
As you enter the beta you are presented with the options of entering a simple 8v8 match, the bigger badder 20v20 match up with vehicles or a simple 1-2 player horde mode pitting you and potentially a mate against a number of escalating waves of stormtroopers, with the occasional AT-ST thrown in for good measure. Each mode has it’s high points and the game rather politely encourages you to not dive straight into the Hoth battle, mainly as it is likely you will get your behind handed to you due to the levelling system and in turn the bonuses it unlocks. For the beta these items are limited, mainly due to the levelling cap of five, meaning there are only so many things you can unlock using the title’s in-game currency - such items include grenades, new weapons, a shield and a jet pack.
The 1-2 player horde mode is fairly straightforward but shows some great potential, not least of all because of some seemingly good AI on display from the waves of enemies that come at you. The simple 8v8 mode feels very much like a familiarisation mode, probably because it’s used as such in the beta. Jumping in this mode gives you the breathing space to take part in a small to medium map with no vehicles and most likely similarly levelled opponents. It feels a lot more Call of Duty than anything Battlefield but as with everything else, looks gorgeous and had an old school FPS vibe. After you’ve braved these modes and levelled a bit, you come to the big one, the money shot, the Star Wars experience for which grown men have waited countless years - the battle on Hoth. It is at this point that if you weren’t entirely sold on Star Wars Battlefront something will happen during your first match or two that will potentially do the job and leave you smiling.
Granted, the Hoth battle is massively imbalanced against the rebels but regardless of which side you are on, the scale, the graphics and quite simply the way in which the atmosphere of this icon battle is handled will hook you in. As detailed, most will play the game in the logical order and if they try not to the game will prod you, so coming to the Hoth battle after an hour or two of small scale COD battles, the scale and fun hits you straight in the face...and that moment will come.
There will be a moment as the rebels which sees you defending one final point - you are struggling but if you band together you may just have it won. Look left, clear, look right, clear, look ahead….Darth ******* Vader. As he runs towards your small three man assault team, swatting away your stream of laser fire, you panic, throw a grenade. Darth laughs and force chokes you to death in front of your friends. Now as a Star Wars fan, if you are going to die in an online game, would you rather that or to be shot in the back by a camping sniper from the other side of the map - tough one.
What Star Wars Battlefront absolutely positively does is nail Star Wars, the looks, the audio, the scale, the wow moments and whilst it sounds a tad off, the lack of realism in a first person shooter is most welcomed. It isn’t Battlefield re-skinned, it’s a different beast and for any Star Wars fan who’s waited for years to see this game be brought back to life, get your order is as there is little chance you will be disappointed.
Star Wars Battlefront is due for launch on November 19th 2015